If you’re a homeowner who loves the look of a lush lawn, but fears and loathes the upkeep required to make it a reality, artificial grass as a landscaping solution might be a godsend.
Artificial grass comes in a number of textures, finishes, colors, and blade shapes. Here are the five factors to keep in mind when deciding if this is the right landscaping move for you.
Say goodbye to sprinklers! One of the biggest selling points for artificial grass is that it doesn’t need constant watering to keep it green, and you don’t have to fertilize or mow artificial grass. It’s suited for all climates, but it’s especially useful in dry, arid environments, where it’s difficult to grow grass.
Artificial grass isn’t completely maintenance free, however: You’ll need to rinse your lawn to clear away dirt and debris, and fluff the blades of grass to keep it from becoming matted.
Resilience to weather and heat
Rainfall and sunlight can affect the health of natural grass. But when it comes to artificial grass, the weather will have little bearing on its appearance. It’s resilient and holds up to any type of weather, including rain and snow. Because it has good drainage, it dries faster than natural grass.
One slight disadvantage, however, is that artificial grass can get very hot. “Like most manufactured materials, artificial grass does indeed get warmer when exposed to direct sunlight,” says Chad Vander Veen, marketing and communications manager for Purchase Green Artificial Grass. “The analogy that resonates best with most people—in terms of how hot artificial grass gets—is that it’s like beach sand.”
There’s no denying that natural grass is good for the environment. It increases soil stability, removes dust from the air and water, and, like other vegetative sources, it also cools the air.
Artificial grass, on the other hand, doesn’t provide the ecological benefits of natural grass. The major concerns come from the artificial infill—the rubber crumb typically made of scrap tires—that’s used to improve the stability of the grass. Concerns have been raised about the adverse effects that rubber crumb can have on the environment and health of those who come in contact with it. Studies show that rubber crumb contains hazardous materials, according to the Yale School of Public Health, which has ongoing research on the volatility of crumb rubber.
Fortunately, certain artificial turf companies offer other infill options, like acrylic polymer-coated sand, coconut fibers, or cork.
If you want your artificial lawn to look like real grass, be prepared to pay anywhere between $8 and $20 per square foot for artificial grass.
The average cost of natural grass is about $0.25 per square foot. Most turf companies place the life span of their grasses between 15 to 20 years so, in the long run, artificial grass might be cheaper.
Unless this is your forever home, you should consider how artificial grass will affect your resale value. If your entire yard consists of artificial grass—especially in the front—potential buyers are either going to love it or hate it. In some markets it is more acceptable, “like very arid climates in the Southwest,” says John Blackman, a real estate agent and developer.
Consult with local landscape architects and or with neighbors on whether they think this choice will improve the value of your home, or have the opposite effect.